Planning processes are important to program success. In fact, the type of tools we use to plan a program can make the difference between success and failure.
Tools for Project planning
Office type documents, such as text documents with tables, spreadsheet and so on, are very useful to create the deliverables of the project planning phase. In fact, if project plans have minimal details these methods can be really valuable for sharing project information to stakeholders who do not have access to specific project management tool.
Moreover, to make sure that there will be no problems with access to project information, it important to set a standards format. This will also increase the interpretation of project data.
Usually, to create and maintain program coherence and consistency it is crucial to have a single planning tool at project level, such as Microsoft Project or Jira (Atlassian). The latter is often used in case of programs that use agile methods.
Tools for Program planning
There are tools that perform well at the project level. At the same time, they can be inadequate to plan programs. In fact, these tools can have limited components that make them inappropriate for program planning.
Some program planning tools also have functionalities for risk management, portfolio management and so on. In fact, it would be great for program managers to have a tool that gives them an overview of all projects, such as Primavera (Oracle).
In addition, there are tools that allow you to drill down into the details of a specific project when necessary. This feature will help you to constantly monitor and check all project information.
Keep in mind
The program planning tool you choose should give you the ability to manage a hierarchy of plans at different levels. In fact, it is important that all project plans are synchronized on a regular basis.